With COVID-19 this year, my list of where I stayed overnight this year is of course tiny:
- Toronto, ON, Canada
- Las Vegas, NV, USA
With COVID-19 this year, my list of where I stayed overnight this year is of course tiny:
Hastily wrote a lazy Top Music of 2020 so that I would have a record beyond a Spotify playlist. Even though I didn’t spend a lot of time listening to the radio in a car, I feel like I have a good handle on the Top 40 hits of the year.
This February was pretty calm. While there was snow, winter hasn’t really been that bad (there were a lot of defrosting breaks). I didn’t have work travel again this month, but we did end up going on a short road trip to Kingston for one night.
I started getting pretty deep into Lego Legacy Heroes. That’s my primary game now. I started playing in November, during beta/soft launch, and the global launch happened at the end of Feb, so I am pretty far ahead (one reason to keep playing). I didn’t really play Hearthstone this month (although there were a lot of Battleground changes), not even keeping up with quests. Disney Heroes I am kind of on the fence on. It is a bit of a chore on most days (and difficult to make progress), but sometimes it is nice to have a lot of things to do and click. The kids continued being deep into LEGO this month, maybe not as crazy as January, but they’re still building new sets and creations.
The big news story this month was Coronavirus. It is truly an interesting time because this is a global event, where every country is on the same side. This might be the first time in history that this is happening! While still contained, there are signs at the end of this month that a pandemic is about to happen.
We were deep in LEGO this month. Not sure why as we didn’t receive any lego kits over Christmas. I guess it was a mix of having a lot of time, having sorted the lego blocks so it was easier to make things, and me playing the LEGO Legacy Heroes game. I’ve also gotten a bit bored of the Disney game – I’ve played it for about 18 months so I guess that is the lifetime of these types of games.
We had some winter-esque snowfall through the month. I thought the snow would stay around and cover the ground until fall but we had a couple of days that was near 0°C, so the snow evaporated/melted away. In November, the weather people predicted a cold/snowy winter. In December, they updated their prediction to be a mild one. I don’t know what it ended up actually being.
I didn’t do any work travel this month, so it’s been almost three months! I was supposed to have travel at the beginning of February but that got cancelled due to Coronavirus and other reasons. The plans to travel messed up our Chinese New Year plans as I was supposed to fly out on the second Saturday. We ended up doing our CNY stuff on the last Saturday of January which was small and done with quickly.
December was full of not-blogging. Usually I put aside some time to write my “end of year” blogs but I didn’t feel very enthusiastic about it this year – I just did the places I stayed (it was easy) and top music (I still care about this) ones. Maybe I will do the year end recap at some point in January.
We also skipped out on a lot of Christmas activities this year because we went down to Nashville over the holidays. In fact, now that I am writing this blog after our trip; I don’t really recall what happened earlier in December.
I do know that we did all of our gift buying and prep in the few weeks beforehand. Most of the gift giving is actually for the kids’ teachers. The kids themselves don’t receive that many gifts anymore. In fact this year, we made them wait until we came back from our trip to open their presents (to their chagrin).
Weather wasn’t too bad after a horrendous November. But again, my memory could be tinted from the t-shirt weather of Nashville!
Here is the annual tradition of where I spent my nights in 2019:
Shortest list since I’ve been keeping track. Mostly due to fewer vacations/road trips and less diversity in work travel.
We bought a new car! Our old car was bought in 2007, so 12 years ago, and has over 200k KM on it. That’s actually not a lot considering there were many years during its lifetime where we didn’t drive it to work. Anyways, the transmission was dying so it was time for a new one.
It started snowing early in November this year. At least I thought it was early, but the news broadcast reminded me that it actually snowed in October last year. The first snow was just a sprinkling and melted during the day. But the week after that, we had a real storm with 15cm dumped on us. We had to hurry to rake all the leaves before they were covered by the snow! Then there was a week of warmish weather, and we are back to leaves being blown around in the wind with no snow at all on the ground.
I played a lot of Hearthstone with Battlegrounds being released. Actually I played it for about 2 weeks non-stop, then just kinda stopped as there was no more variety. I also started a new LEGO gatcha game, which may take the place of the Disney game I am playing (almost finished collecting everything worthwhile).
October saw several events:
Fall arrived this month. The leaves were a nice variety of colors throughout the month, and our backyard is pretty full of them now (gotta rake next month).
Hockey season started and the Leafs are pretty mediocre. I started playing a gatcha hockey game, but it wasn’t very deep so stopped that as well.
The school year started early this year, with Labour day on the 2nd of September. The school routine is actually easier this year as all three kids are at the same school, but it was still something that I had to get used to because the timing is different now (as Katana is in daycare and not actual school).
We have a good routine now, and I tried avoid travel this month to prevent further complications. It didn’t work out as I had a last minute trip to the Bay area at the end of the month. It was a short trip though, so served as practice/trial for the drop off routine when I am away.
Extracurriculars eventually started this month. This year, we tried to put them in more year-long programs so we didn’t have to change schedules every term.
Hockey also came back (preseasons at least). To celebrate, I started playing some more hockey-based video games.
While back to school sales started in July, we didn’t really do much until August. The kids have most of what they need already, they don’t need new clothes and we have a ton of stationary supplies. We ended up just buying them some new backpacks and lunchboxes.
The weather in August let up a bit, there was a week and a bit where it wasn’t too hot and we could actually spend time outdoors. Lots of summer thunderstorms though. By the end of the month, it was TOO cold. We could no longer wear shorts everyday and could have needed a jacket in the morning. Boy that switched quickly.
I played a bit more Hearthstone this month as there was a new expansion, and I started winding back some of my Disney Heroes playing – I’ve been playing a year and it’s starting to lose the novelty (just endless levelling again). Instead of looking for new mobile games, I am trying out DS emulation. Tired of micropayments and the game design that funds it.
Usually at the beginning of July, we try and go on a road trip to take advantage of the Canada Day/Independence Day long weekend. We didn’t do that this year but I ended up having some travel in the second week of July. It started with a work trip to Korea, then I spend ~6 hours in Japan for a layover. My plan was to visit a festival in Sawara which is near the airport (although getting there via local trains took 1.5h) but like a lot of the Japanese festivals that I’ve been too; it just wasn’t that great. Probably not a great use of time but it is one of those things that if I didn’t try to go, I would never go again (had to be near Narita on a certain weekend of the year).
After that, I flew to Vancouver and spent a day there. I had a lot of relatives who were congregating there so I dropped in for a quick visit and meal. Then it was finally home. I spent a very long Saturday on an extended trip (slept two “nights” on airplanes).
Back home, the weather was hot and humid. We tried to do outdoor activities in the mornings on the weekends, because the afternoons were unbearable and had to be spent indoors. It makes it difficult to take advantage of our Wonderland season’s pass or go to farms and parks. Unfortunately, with summer half over, I don’t think it’s going to get any better in August.
It’s June already and the school year is almost done. The weeks past by quickly if not the days. A lot of stuff happened this month in real life; but not a lot of blogging (well no movies at least).
The month revolved around our planned vacation. We knew we were going to go somewhere the week of Victoria Day, but it took a few months to figure out where. Finally we decided to take a cruise to the Bahamas from Orlando, and then bookend a couple of days there. We avoid Disney World theme parks this time because we’ve done them so many times in the past years, but it’s hard to avoid Disney (or theme parks) in general when you’re in Orlando. We did end up going to Seaworld for one day though, and caught a couple of their animal shows.
I didn’t do any traveling for work in May but the few weeks before vacation was still hectic. As Spring is critical real estate season, we wanted to make a quick change to make sure our house was on the market properly. So we had a week and a half of interviewing the right agent, deciding, and setting up the property again.
Weather is heating up in Toronto. Not as bad as it was in Florida and the Caribbean but it’s almost time for the AC to get started.
April ended up being pretty busy. I was in Korea for a week (with a detour through Vancouver to see my cousin), then had another short trip out to California at the end of the month. The week in the middle was Easter (which I no longer get a statutory holiday for due to political correctness) so the kids were out for a 4 day weekend (didn’t go out of town).
Snow has finally melted, although my mindset is still that it is cold (weather is in the teens, and in the thirties when I was in California). Our backyard is finally visible though, and there’s a lot of clean up to do. Jovian ended up having 3 straight weekends of birthday parties this month!
Whoops, forgot to blog about February until now. So what happened – well it was a short month, but it always feels long because this is the dead of winter. It didn’t feel as cold as January, but that might be because I was used to and expected it this month. There wasn’t as much snow, but still a snowfall or two. Driving in this month felt like the winters of old, where there is a constant layer of snow underneath your wheels (at least on the inner roads) and snowbanks along the sides. Fortunately, Spring is supposed to come soon and dramatically this year.
I flew out to Korea for a few days this month. I’m pretty tired of Seoul the city, so I connected through Japan on the way back. The connection involved a change in airport so I was able to catch some sights for a few hours before departing.
I made the conscious decision to stop playing Star Trek Timelines this month. I guess inertia kept me going but there wasn’t anything that I “needed”. I “bought into” Disney Heroes (meaning I paid $10 to get to a higher VIP level so I could avoid menial tasks) so I’m giving that a ~90 day run before deciding whether I should continue spending time on it. I also started playing Hearthstone some more (at least the questing and saving gold). It feels good to make this change!
Oops, bad start to the new year as I forgot to write my recap for January. That’s surprising as a lot of stuff happened in January and it actually felt like two months. The new year started uneventful as was the rest of Christmas vacation (Apollo had a couple of play dates). Then the next week, I few to Las Vegas for CES.
Now that I’ve been to CES a few times, I realize it’s more of a sales conference than anything else. It’s not that fun for me and it is just another place I have to do work. The travel is also very hectic because there are a ton of people who are flying down for the same things and the flights are packed, everyone has status etc.
After coming back home, we started our winter term activities on the weekends. This year, Apollo and Jovian are going to different programs so Pauline and I take them to different places on the weekends.
This month was also a “typical winter” with lots of snow. After a couple of snowfalls, the snowbanks around our driveway quickly grew taller than the kids. The snowfall was followed by extreme cold as a Polar vortex descended on most of Canada. For Toronto, temperatures during the day was in the -15°C to -20°C range (before windchill) and night times were into the -30°Cs.
In this month, I also found a way to “break” the Star Trek game that I’m playing. Usually when I’m able to figure out a way to accelerate the progress through the game like this, my enjoyment will fizzle out (apparently doing something challenging is more fun). I’m still trying to hold on to the game by not abusing my power but it might be time to move on soon.
Unlike years past, we didn’t make a lot of progress on Christmas shopping before December this year because we were busy with the house. That meant we had to fit it all into December. The gifts for teachers & etc were easy since it’s pretty much the same every year (and we can plan for it) but everyone else was a lot harder. Eventually we got it done, but lots of gift cards and Amazon for most things. One thing I noticed this year was a distinct lack of Christmas cards. I guess everyone finally made the shift (sorry Hallmark).
I made one last trip to Korea in December, and had to fly around in a circuitous fashion, so luckily that gave me enough miles to bump into the 75k threshold. There’s not much change between the previous tier and this one though.
To give everyone a change to visit our new house, we hosted a few times over the holidays. Necessary evil but it’s all done now!
We didn’t do much Boxing Day shopping as there wasn’t anything we needed (closets are full). There are still a couple of things we need to fill out our house but they aren’t a rush. We did end up buying an aquarium and some fish, so those our the first pets in our new house.
Welcome to my 2018 year in review, aka a winding tour of 20 thoughts about this year. Here we go!
(1) It’s been 10 years since I got married and six years since we’ve had our first child. We’re on our third place to live now. That’s pretty solid into adult life and adult responsibilities. I’m technically in the leading edge of Millennials and still feel I connect with that generation. But do I really?
(2) It’s been 13 years since I graduated from undergrad. Most of my peers have been in industry for that long too. While I think there is title inflation, a lot of us are at senior levels at companies – not just senior engineer/developer (which you seemed to jump up to with only a few years of experience) but management level. That’s another change that just creeps up on you.
(3) Like last year, I haven’t been using my core skills at work. I guess building new skills is important, and there’s still a lot of that this year. The most fun and useful one though is deal making – I wouldn’t want to do the front line negotiations, but it’s challenging to theorize.
(4) I applied that skill this year as we bought a new house a moved. (5) The deal making wasn’t bad, but it was a tough experiences to move. You know, I used to move every 4 months, from school back home or to a Coop placement. I never liked it, but it was manageable. Now there’s just a lot of stuff and it’s hard to go through the process. Just like when we moved into our old townhouse, there are a bunch of empty rooms and the house feels empty. However, as with the townhouse, I think it’s going to fill out as a matter of time.
(6) I hardly ever chat with other people (friends). It’s something most people do, and it’s so easy now with our phones. It’s just not something I want to do. I guess you could say it’s a hobby (people chatting with others) and it’s not one of mine. (7) I don’t have a lot of hobbies, but I always wanted to have one esoteric one. Everyone is interested in the same thing (photography, travel, etc). Well I found a unique one (and it’s something that I’m truly interested in, and not just saying it) – genealogy. I spent a lot of time this year researching my family tree and trying to map it out. It’s hard because eventually it leads into China and I don’t have the ability to search there. But I’ve made good progress in the US.
(8) When I was younger, I had a hobby of watching movies. But ever since we had kids, I have hardly watched any movies. There’s no chance to go to the movie theatre, and we don’t subscribe to Netflix. It’s not something I miss though – from the expensive tickets/concessions to chasing the new media rabbit. Except, this is not true anymore. I actually have watched a lot of movies this year (~30) and while most of them are on the plane, they still count.
(9) Time shifting movies like that is an evolution of my new life. This year I have felt that my time management has changed. I’ve always prided myself in preparation and having enough time to do things properly, but this year there were numerous times (daily or weekly) where I felt rushed. I guess one reason is because I am trying to hold onto priorities that shouldn’t be that important anymore (stuff from days before we had kids), and the other reason is just that there is more stuff going on at once now.
(10) Another thing that continues to be missing is having time to myself, to reflect and think. Not having a commute really affects this, and shower time is just not long enough. However, all the flight time is helpful because it gives me time to do this. For example, every year I have difficulty writing this year end blog, because I sit in front of my computer and can’t think of all the changes in the year. However, for this year’s blog, I actually conceived all the ideas and points on the plane (trying to sleep) and then edit it/fleshed it out on the computer. I need to find more cases where I can time shift like this.
(11) Flying has also changed for me. I have status on Air Canada now so I always get to board early. Sometimes I don’t even have to deal with the riff-raff so flying isn’t a hectic experience. There’s also this feeling of luxury in our new home now because there is a lot more space. However, it’s this strange balance between being the same that we always were (still the same clothes, furniture, cars, etc) and suddenly having luxury things in a few target areas. Not sure if this is faux-luxury, or upbringing holding us back.
(12) I’m a single child so my parents are my responsibility. As I get older my parents do too, and every cold or sickness becomes a worry. I know they don’t want to be a burden for me but that doesn’t alleviate the actual burden.
(13) On the flip side is our children. When I look over the pictures of this year, I see that Katana grew a lot. She’s almost 2 now, can romp about, and kind of express what she wants. That also means that she’s on the cusp of being a little kid like her brothers, and losing the baby cuteness. That is an inevitable outcome that I was struggling with all year – that this is going to be the last baby until we’re grandparents.
(14) Jovian is always the younger brother, but he has grown and is a big boy himself. Sometimes I see him and think he is Apollo due to his size. This year, I also became more familiar with his friends & etc, which means he is finally exuding some of himself into the family (instead of just piggy backing on Apollo’s friends).
(15) Strangely though, I don’t feel that Apollo has grown. He definitely has, especially when I look at his class pictures and all those kids are no longer your cute little kids. But in my mind, he’s still a little boy.
(16) Another year worth of gaming under my belt. This year, I continued to play Star Trek Timelines, started Disney Heroes in the summer, and stopped playing Hearthstone as much. Spending a little of money, but not a lot (maybe $100 total). Gaming is not a emphasis but it is ever-present.
(17) Another thing I’ve prided myself on is eating healthy when at home, so that I can eat crappy (fast food, etc) when I’m out (both in the city or traveling). I don’t think this is true anymore, I end up eating lots of junk food at home too.
(18) I found various instances throughout the year where I wished that I would revive my Twitter account. I just had one liners that I wanted to shout out at the world. In the end, I always ended up holding back because I didn’t want those random musing tied to my digital identity. I toyed with the idea of only tweeting hockey stuff, but even then didn’t end up going through with the idea
(19) This year’s Maple Leafs are good. Not promising, but actually good. They should challenge for the Cup in the playoffs (and if they flame out, it will be disappointing). I watched a bunch of games on TV and for some reason, Apollo is really interested in hockey this year too.
(20) This year ended optimistically because of our move. We needed to move, a bit because we were running out of space, and a bit because it was necessary for our plan in the next few years. The plan of when to move wasn’t concrete, but now that it is done, I am glad. The newness (to us) of the place means life is fresh and exciting (rather than being extremely challenging if everything had changed).
Being in a larger, detached house also helps validate the inflection point of 2017. Now it is about the home and family, rather than starting a family – something we’ll continue in 2019.
Spent nights in fewer places this year than the previous ones (only 9). Somehow never ended up going to Dallas for work this year, and didn’t head out to Erie/Grove City for shopping (moving during that time).
My main impression this year was that there was a distinct lack of interesting new songs. For new music, I continued to listen to the radio but dialed back a lot on KPop. It wasn’t productive for me to keep paying attention to blogs to find out about new KPop. I also took a long break from radio in the middle of the year because the kids started listening to (the same) kid albums over and over. We attained a balance in the last quarter of the year so I had a chance to catch up (not that I missed much, if anything).
Due to this, here is an shorter list for 2018 – I think this list could have been cut before 10:
It’s kind of telling that this year, my most favorite song might have been released in 2017!
November was the first month we spent in our new home and things are finally settling in. We still have a bunch of boxes to unpack but all the day-to-day things are sorted and organized. We also did a bunch of home improvement things (fixed stuff and bought some furniture here and there) but it’s safe to say that the Home Depot trips are dying down. We also dealt with a lot of garbage and recycling – each week there were 5+ bags waiting for the waste disposal people!
We had the first snowfall of winter in the middle of the month – it was a pretty big one too (5-10 cm). That kind of freaked everyone out as they expected a heavy winter. But since then, we’ve only had a few dustings. Temperatures dropped below freezing in the middle of month too and haven’t really recovered.
For work, I flew down to SF for the Samsung Developer Conference. I ended up doing part of a talk there. Nothing too exciting but one more thing to put on my LinkedIn profile. We didn’t go anywhere for Black Friday – it was too difficult to plan with our house up in the air, and we wanted to leave that long weekend available in case we had to take care of anything around the house. Turns out we didn’t so we just went around Canadian stores and bought various deals.
This October was very busy because we had to move. We bought a new house in September so it we had been starting to pack, but October was when things really got busy as we had to finalize the packing, close on the new house and actually move in! Plus there was Apollo’s birthday, Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en.
For Apollo’s birthday, we had our usual family gatherings and then went to Wonderland for the day with a couple of friends. It was rainy so they didn’t get to wear their costumes, but they were still able to trick or treat. We didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving this year as our house was filled with boxes and it would be difficult to prepare and have a large meal.
The closing of the house went OK, although not smoothly. I took 2 days off to see this through, but lost a day due to a banking snafu. Prior to closing, we also had to run around for last minute paperwork due to another banking issue. Not sure who to blame between the bank, our lawyer and us, because there are a lot of steps in the process and I’m not sure who is responsible for the communication.
Anyways, the house closed. We started moving some stuff over and cleaned it up. We had a week, and then moved the remainder on the last Friday of the month (furniture, books, etc). I guess by the end of the month we were setup as we had to eat, work and sleep in the new house.
We didn’t do a lot of Hallowe’en activities. Aside from Wonderland earlier in the month, we did one community trick or treat on the weekend prior and then went to an indoor party on the day of. Maybe next year we will have time to decorate our house and give out candy.
School started back up in September, but the kids are not old enough that it is a huge deal (having to buy a lot of new binders or other supplies). For the first time in his life, Apollo went to the same school as the previous year (although the entrances & etc are different now that he is not in kindergarten anymore). Jovian switched to a “new” school too, but it’s not really new as he has been there many times while dropping Apollo off in the morning. All-in-all, things went pretty smoothly and we got into the routine pretty easily.
No extra curricular activities have started yet so weekends are still fairly free. Went to a farm, safari (zoo) and slept in to take advantage of that this month. Went on a quick trip to NYC for work but no other travel otherwise. We actually spent a lot of time packing and organizing the house after the kids went to bed so not a lot of time to do any other things.
And with that, summer was over. The boys were in the same camp for most of the month, so routine was pretty static. Now it’s back to school, with Jovian starting junior kindergarten. August started out hot (continuation of July) so we didn’t spend too much time outdoors, but we did do some biking on the bike paths (they’ve graduated from the front of the house). Also because of the heat; this summer, we only went fruit picking once (for peaches). Maybe we’ll go more in September.
I had planned to go to NYC for work in the last week of August, but plans changed and I ended up in Korea instead. Luckily, it was not as hot as when I went in July, but I also didn’t have time for my own adventures (plus it was rainy every day I was there).
Last month, I had been putting more emphasis on Disney Heroes, but I found myself keeping a more steady diet of that and Timelines. This is partially because the honeymoon phase of Disney Heroes is done, and I’ve realized that it is an endless hamster wheel (even worse than Star Trek). I have already a big investment in Timelines and I’m not at a stage that I want to give that up yet. So I rebalanced a bit and made sure I’m still successful in STT. Hearthstone also released an expansion this month. I bought a few packs, but it’s more of the same, and not that fun still (first player puzzles don’t appeal to me that much).
Back when I was in public school, I always thought summers were pretty long! Then I went to University with their 4 month “summers” (sometimes Coop) and those were even longer. Well as an adult with kids in school, 2 months is definitely no longer long. I can’t believe we’re halfway through summer already.
We started off July with a trip to Rochester to make good use of our membership at the Strong museum. Then it was off to camp for the kids. Each boy was in a different camp every week so that’s 8 camps in the month! I also ended up in Korea for a week for work.
It was hot everywhere. Above 30°C in Korea, Rochester and Canada. We had a couple of cooler days in the month, but it has been a pretty hot summer around the world. We cooled off by going skating (skating camp for a week) and with our weekly lessons on Saturday. It’s strange and awkward to go from shorts to jackets.
So far this year, we’ve used the “front yard of our house” (e.g., the street) much more than the backyard. The kids are at an age where they want to ride bikes and run around, which doesn’t work well in our backyard. Fortunately, the shadows from our block cover most of the street in the late afternoon and evenings, so even with the hot temperatures, they are able to run around there.